You always remember your first.
For me, the first restaurant I ate at in California was an Islands in Manhattan Beach. I remember it well because it sat glowing in the shopping center by our hotel, promising everything I envisioned SoCal to be: palm trees, surf movies on the TV, fun tiki-style decor. Not to mention all of my favorite foods.
At the time, I didn't know it was a chain because it didn't (and still doesn't) feel like one. It just felt like a establishment that embraced the lifestyle I was looking for: laid back, fun, and cozy. I was 19 and so excited to eat at my first west coast restaurant. Obviously, Islands did not disappoint. Now today, every time I go there, I get to revisit that giddy new-to-California feeling.
But you know what the best part is? These days I can celebrate that feeling with some of their delicious cocktails and craft beers. Which is exactly why we headed there last week when San Diego was on fire.
Two words: Pineapple. Margarita.
It was hard to post last week for two reasons:
One, it felt inappropriate to to cover too many happy things about San Diego, on this San Diego-centric blog, when the county was consumed in wildfires and people were losing their homes. As city-dwellers, the wildfires didn't and probably won't ever affect us or even come close. But I was still worried about my North County friends and co-workers, and especially Ryan's parents.
The other reason that it was hard to post was because I was in the throes of a really hectic and stressful week. I had a lot of events going on after work, a major paper due for school, AND I was in the final stages of preparations, coordination and checklists for the baby shower I was throwing in San Francisco that weekend. Let me tell you... organizing an event with so many moving parts in another city is harder than it sounds.
Needless to say I needed a drink.
Ryan and I headed to Islands for dinner last Monday night and it was the perfect respite from the heat, as well as a nice break before diving into the chaos. Right off the bat, our server told us about their pineapple-infused tequila margarita and I didn't have to think twice. Yes, please.
Comfort food was my next must-have on the agenda. So we dove into a place of their Island Nachos with chili. I can safely say these are the best nachos I've had in a long time. Between the two of us we cleaned the plate.
I mean, let future Bri and future Ryan decide how we're going to eat dinner after stuffing our faces with a huge appetizer! Right?
That future came about five minutes later when we put in our entree orders. Whoops.
Ryan got the Malibu burger with applewood smoked bacon and fries, while I tried to find something a bit on the lighter side. That's when I came across their Beach Bowls.
Their Chicken Hoisen Beach Bowl came with grilled chicken, fresh grilled pineapple, red bell peppers, snow peas, water chestnuts, red onions, broccoli & diced scallions, covered in hoisin sauce and served over brown rice and it was DELICIOUS.
It was so filling and so tasty that I felt like I could probably eat it every day. In fact, I tried to convince my coworker to go to Islands for lunch yesterday just so I could have it again.
We closed the night with a fudge brownie and ice cream off of the desserts menu and left the restaurant in a massive food coma. I have to say, it's nice to be able to relive my first dining experience every time I step into an Islands location.... and now you can get a taste of it too!
Islands was kind enough to sponsor this post (however, all of the mouth-watering pictures and delicious food induced comas are my own) and they're giving me a $100 Gift Card and two beach towels to give away to you! See below to enter!
Islands Fine Burgers and Drinks
2441 Fenton Pkwy
San Diego, CA 92108
Mission Valley // And 8 other San Diego locations!
Phone: (619) 640-2727